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How to Get to Know Your Digital Neighborhood on Social

As I’ve shared before, I’ve come to enjoy working from a coffee shop near my house. As a remote employee, I require some daily human interaction to remain sane. My goal is to become the Norm 🍺 of this coffee shop. Aim high, kids.

laughing laugh friendship cheers rhea perlmanOne of the best parts about this spot is its location. It’s on the corner of the busiest intersection in the neighborhood, and everyone passes through. I’m still new in town, so when my brain needs a rest I do a little people-watching to get a feel for my neighbors. A good people-watcher is also a good eavesdropper. Pro tip: Always bring earbuds when people-watching. You can stare at people for as long as you want if you have earbuds; they just assume you’re deep in thought.

Social is your Secret Weapon

Most of the conversations I overhear are pretty normal. Old friends catching up, kids discussing homework, neighbors talking about their big plans for the backyard–you know, suburbia stuff. But every once in a while, somebody says something that makes it hard to maintain my “deep in thought” disguise. For example, the man trying to convince his friend that cell phones are a population control mechanism because the radiation they produce makes people have hot brain blood. Can’t say that one didn’t catch my attention. I had to turn and take a look–plaid purple fedora. No further comment.

As marketers, we’ve been trying to do something similar for a long time, using social data to tell us about our digital neighborhood.

I know people follow my brand. I know they talk about my brand. But, who are these people? What do they care about?

Understanding your audience through social requires all of your people-watching skills. You’ve got to be able to discreetly eavesdrop on their conversations and see what they do.

Social Eavesdropping

We’ve been doing this for a while. We use listening tools to discover what people are saying about our brand, our competitors, our products, and other topics relevant to our industry.

If we have a good listening tool, we can even find out where people are when they talk about specific topics and other information about their demographics and psychographics.

MapIf we have an excellent listening tool, we can even start to find the names of people who are driving the conversation and evangelizing on behalf of our brand.

CommentsThese people turn into influencer partners, and–bam–all of a sudden our social strategy has grown a new layer of audience engagement and advocacy. (Shameless plug: Simply Measured offers an excellent listening tool.)

It’s important that you listen to all of the relevant conversations happening around you. Many marketers just use listening tools to set alerts for crisis words and to monitor their own hashtags.

This is like me only listening for my name to be mentioned at the coffee shop.

It’s not going to happen much, and when it does, it’ll be predictable (“Colin, your drink’s ready!”). This tells me nothing about my neighborhood. You’ve got to also listen to all of that suburbia talk about cleaning the gutters and gas prices. Why? Because somewhere buried in all of that is something you never knew about your audience — for example, there is some portion seriously concerned about the health effects of cell phone usage.

“So, Colin, you’re suggesting I just start listening for broad chatter online. That’s just going to return a bunch of pointless noise.”

No. It’s possible to capture all the social conversation relevant to your brand without trying to boil the ocean. I’m not going to every coffee shop in town and eavesdropping; I just want to hear everything at the one in my neighborhood. The right listening tool can help you do this too, surfacing only what you need to hear while still capturing those unique comments that teach you something new about your audience.

But, a good people-watcher doesn’t just listen, (s)he also takes a peek to see what people are doing while they talk about radiation poisoning from cell phones.

Eyes on Sharing

While you’ve got your ears burning in your digital coffee shop, you’ve got to also be aware of what people are doing. Plaid purple fedora guy? He was waving his phone around his head, cheating death with every swoop of his hand. How do you watch what people are doing online? Simple: you watch what they share.

Earned Content Shares
Earned Content Shares

Social conversations tell you a lot, but if you can combine this knowledge with the actions people take, you’ll have a comprehensive understanding of your audience’s interests. How do you do this at all, let alone in a way that is relevant to your brand? You watch what they share from your website. Somebody going to your website makes them immediately valuable to your brand. Then, you watch what URLs they share with friends, family, and colleagues.

If you think you’ve got this covered by the social share buttons on your website, good luck.

Most people copy and paste the URL from the address bar, and the vast majority of those URLs go straight into private messaging apps and result in dark social traffic.

Many marketers see none of this, meaning they are trying to do people-watching with their eyes closed. They can hear what’s going on (if they are using a listening tool), but they can’t see what people are doing with their web content.

This is the piece that listening tools could never teach us on their own. We can hear our audience, but when they get serious about our brand and start sharing content from our website, we lose sight of them.

To solve this, you need to bring social listening together with the ability to track content sharing (shameless plug: Simply Measured does this.). By combining these, you have a complete understanding of what your audience cares about and what you need to produce and distribute to increase your impact across the entire funnel.

Metrics MatrixHow so? With data coming from your eyes and ears, you can balance the need to give the people what they want with the need to give the people what your brand is pushing. Your audience will inspire your content, and you’ll know which products, messages, promotions, etc. to include in your content based on what your audience shares.

Are you ready to unplug your ears and remove your mask? Click the button below to learn more about how Simply Measured can help you listen to your audience and watch what they do with your content.

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Colin Zalewski

Product Marketing Manager at Simply Measured with a passion for full-funnel digital marketing. I enjoy a round of golf, a Kentucky Mule, and warm evening walks with my wife and dog.

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